Thursday, March 8, 2018

Learn the Office 3.10: Vespers Pt 3 - The Seasons



c. 1210 Arundel MS 157, f.93r
The British Library, London


Let the Office of Vespers consist of four psalms with antiphons. After the psalms a lesson is to be recited; then the responsory, the hymn, the verse, the canticle of the Gospel, the Litany, the Lord's Prayer, and the concluding prayer, with which this Office ends.

Rule of St Benedict, ch 17


Vespers and the key liturgical seasons


The previous post focused on the 'ferial' or everyday version of Vespers, which mostly use the default texts set out in the psalter section of Office books (the collect aside).

The basic structure of Vespers (a few special days aside) is always the same.

But due to the large number of special texts that have been composed for this hour down the centuries, Vespers often requires you to look elsewhere in your books for some of the texts required.

This post covers the variants relating to the main liturgical seasons; the next looks at Vespers for feasts.

The psalms during the special seasons


On 'ferial' days (usually Class III or II) during the special seasons of the year, such as Advent, Nativitytide, Epiphanytide, Lent and Eastertide, the psalms of Vespers are usually still those of the day of the week.

There are a few key exceptions to this principle though:

  • during the Octave of the Nativity, Vespers uses the first three psalms of Sundays (Ps 109, 110, 111) but the fourth psalm alternates between Psalm 129 and Ps 131;
  • during the Octaves of Easter and Pentecost, the Sunday psalms are used throughout the week; and
  • during the Sacred Triduum, the psalms are numbers 115, 119, 139, 140 and 141.

Antiphons


The antiphons used during these seasons can either be as for throughout the year, or include special sets of antiphons.

Advent

The situation for Advent is perhaps the most complex.

For most of Advent, Saturdays and Sunday Vespers use the antiphons for the week of Advent common to Lauds and Prime to None during the week; weekday Vespers, though uses the antiphons for 'throughout the year'.

On the days between December 17 and 23 however, a special set of antiphons for each the day of the week are used.

Lent 

Lent is actually less elaborate than Advent so far as antiphons for the psalms go, as the antiphons for throughout the year continue to be used.

Eastertide

During Eastertide the Office is simplified, with all four psalms being said each day under one antiphon viz Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Chapter, responsory, versicle and hymn


The special seasons of the year typically have special sets of texts for the parts of the Office that come after the psalmody that completely replace those normally used, and are usually the same each day.

For most of the little hours, most of the seasonal texts are included in the psalter section of the book.

In the case of Vespers though, you have to remember to ignore the texts in the psalter section of the book and instead refer to the 'Ordinary of the season' texts provided in the temporale, or 'of time' section of your Office book.

Magnificat antiphon


The special seasons of the year generally include special canticle antiphons.

In some cases these are the same each day of the week, such as during Nativitytide, Epiphanytide and Ascensiontide.

More often, though, a special antiphon is supplied for each day of the relevant period (ie Monday in the first week of Advent, Tuesday in the first week of Advent, etc), or particular date (such as the O Antiphons between December 17 and 23).

In the case of the season of Septuagesima, the use of these canticle antiphons is the main change to the Office (the exclusion of the Alleluia aside) that is specific to the season.

Collects


The special seasons also often involve additional collects, following rules particular to the season.

During most of Advent, for example, special days such as the Ember Days of Advent aside, the collect is simply that of the Sunday as usual.

But during Lent there are two collects set for each day, one of which is only used at Vespers.


SUMMARY


The tables below summarise where the texts come from during the main liturgical seasons.

Advent to Ephiphanytide 

Advent (to 16/12)
Advent (17-23/12)
Nativitytide (after the Octave)
Epiphanytide
Opening prayers 
As usual
Antiphons for the psalms
Sat&Sunday of Sunday Lauds of Advent week; rest of the office throughout the year
Of the day of the week between December 17-23
 As in the psalter for throughout the year
As in the psalter
Psalms
Of the day of the week
Chapter
Ordinary of Advent

Ordinary of the ferial Office after the octave of the Nativity
Ordinary of Epiphanytide
Responsory
Hymn
Versicle
Antiphon for the Magnificat
Of the Advent day
Of the date
Of the day after Epiphany
Magnificat+Gloria Patri
As usual
Antiphon repeated
As above
Closing prayers 
As usual
-          Collect
Of  Of the Advent week
Of  Of the season
Of  Of the epiphany, or after the Sunday

Septuagesima to Passiontide


Septuagesima
Lent – Ash Wednesday  to the Saturday before Sunday Lent I
Lent proper
Passiontide
Opening prayers 
No alleluia – Laus tibi Domine…

Antiphons for the psalms
As in the psalter for throughout the year
As in the psalter
 As in the psalter
As in the psalter
Psalms
Of the day of the week
Chapter
As in the psalter
As in the psalter
Ordinary of Lent
Ordinary of Passiontide
Responsory
Hymn
Versicle
Antiphon for the Magnificat
Of the day in Septuagesima
Of the day
 Of the day
Of the day
Magnificat+Gloria Patri
As usual
Antiphon repeated
 As above
Closing prayers 
As usual
-          Collect
 Of Of the Sunday
Of  Of the day for Vespers
O

The Triduum to Ascentiontide


Sacred Triduum
Eastertide
Ascensiontide
Opening prayers 
Omitted
As usual
As usual
Antiphons for the psalms
For the Triduum
One antiphon only (alleluia, alleluia, alleluia)
Psalms
For the Triduum, no doxology
Of the day of the week
Chapter
Omitted
Ordinary of Eastertide
Ordinary of the Ascension
Responsory
Hymn
Versicle
Antiphon for the Magnificat
Of the day
Of the Eastertide day
Magnificat
No doxology


Antiphon repeated
 As above
Closing prayers 
Omitted-  instead Christus factus est etc

For the Friday and after the Sunday
-          Collect
Of  Of the day
Of    Of the Sunday


And for the next part in this series, continue on here.

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